'06 first-round QBs are 0-for-3 so far

BY Alex Marvez • June 9, 2009

Detroit, Tampa Bay and the New York Jets should hope I'm not writing this type of column again in 2012.

Because if that's the case, the respective selections of Matt Stafford, Josh Freeman and Mark Sanchez in April's draft will be as lamentable as what transpired for the teams that chose the top three quarterback prospects in 2006.


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Tennessee, Arizona and Denver thought they had solidified the position for the long run when using Top 11 picks on Vince Young, Matt Leinart and Jay Cutler. Instead, the future remains as cloudy as before all three clubs signed the trio to contracts with a combined $51 million in guaranteed money.

Denver already has to start from scratch after trading a disgruntled Cutler to Chicago this offseason. Young and Leinart have both lost their starting jobs. They will enter the season as backups behind 30-something veterans who outplayed them.

None of the three has won a playoff game. And it's fair to wonder if any of them ever will.

Cutler did reach a Pro Bowl in 2008 and is further advanced than Leinart and Young. But there's more to playing quarterback than having a rifle arm. Cutler's maturity is in question after the manner in which he forced his way out of Denver. He pouted and snubbed team owner Pat Bowlen after the Broncos considered a trade with New England for Matt Cassel. Should he pull the same antics in the Windy City, the rest of Cutler's tainted reputation will be blown away. It would greatly limit Cutler's appeal to head coaches and general managers who cherish leadership out of the position.

Young's image already is shot and keeps getting worse. Young recently contemplated pulling a Cutler and demanding a trade if unable to best Kerry Collins during the preseason. He and his agent have since tried to backpedal from those comments, but the damage is done.

The Vince Young we saw in the 2008 season-opener wasn't the same guy who led the University of Texas to the 2006 BCS title against Leinart's USC squad. Young melted down physically and mentally last September against Jacksonville, hurting his knee and trying to beg his way off the field. The following day, Young allegedly mentioned suicide to a therapist and drove away from his home with a gun, causing the Titans to call police because of concerns about his overall well being and state of mind.

While the Titans and his agent tried to downplay that information in a police report, Young didn't seem right and probably needed a few weeks to recover and clear his head. Young, though, hasn't done much since to garner public sympathy. He squandered the chance to grow last season under Collins — another high-profile quarterback who had to rebound from personal problems — by not picking his brain during meetings or in the locker room. By re-signing Collins to a two-year contract this offseason rather than letting him to leave via free agency, Tennessee management made a clear statement about where Young stands at this point in his career.

Young also still has no clue as to how to handle himself in public. He should have learned his lesson last offseason when photos of a shirtless, tequila-swilling Young at a nightclub surfaced on the internet. In his latest embarrassment, Young — holding a cup with an unidentified liquid inside — channeled the spirit of former Titans teammate Pacman Jones by "making it rain" with dollars thrown into the crowd from on-stage at a Nelly concert.

I'm sure Titans owner Bud Adams would be thrilled to see some of the roughly $30 million he already has paid the underachieving Young being put to such use.

Leinart knows all too well about how similar shenanigans can influence public perception about work ethic and football commitment. Leinart, who entered the NFL with a playboy reputation, is still living down the hot tub and beer bong internet photos of him with four college co-eds that emerged in April 2008. Leinart, too, also saw his short-term chances of starting dashed this offseason when Arizona re-signed Kurt Warner to a two-year deal.

But rather than complain or demand a change of scenery like Cutler and Young when faced with adversity, Leinart has let his actions do the talking.

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